The RailStaff Awards 2020

Nominations for Rail Team of the Year

Andrew Perry

Said the following about Apprentice Team:

“Great Western Railway (GWR) is one of the biggest rail franchises in the UK, part of the First Group of companies, operating the Western network since 1996, rebranding ourselves as GWR in 2015. We employ over 6000 people across our network and we carry more than one and a half million customers over two million single journeys on 10,000 services every week. People are at the heart of our business and our ethos is that we are 'greater together'.

Our Apprenticeship Team truly are one of our "everyday hero's" and work tirelessly delivering a young pipeline of talent into the business year after year. Whilst the team is only small, they collectively manage up to 65 Apprentices, based at numerous locations across all functions. As part of the various programmes the team are responsible for delivering many community activities.

The Duke of Edinburgh Business Gold see our young apprentices give up their time and deliver over 600 hours of voluntary service each year across our local communities undertaking such activities as dog walking, Sports clubs, Charity shops and heritage railways.

The Apprentice Team have to evidence this and record it with the DofE for verification. It’s an amazing contribution to the local communities whilst instilling core life skills in the Apprentices themselves.

In addition to the many schools talks and careers fairs across the network attended by the team, the Railway Safety Schools programme really does help our communities understand the railway environment in a fun and interactive way using the railway safety box. The team along with other local agencies host an event for local Yr 6 school children to come along and talk about Railway safety. The interactive session begins with a scene from a local railway, with a train, overhead lines and level crossing. Suddenly a ghostly figure appears at the scene and explains that he was a driver of a train that was hit by school children throwing stones. Unfortunately he died in the incident and he goes on to explain how he is missing his own children. The story moves on with other characters telling their side of the story including the children who threw the stones explaining what happened to them as a result of their actions. Some interesting fun facts are then delivered by the team before the session ends with a Railway safety quiz delivered through the box utilising the scene from earlier. The Session is hard hitting but is loved by the children and teachers alike. The team last year delivered this message to over 3700 children, which equates to over 500 hours of community engagement. Since the programme started over 15000 school children have received the session across the Southwest and Oxford area, and the team are working hard to engage other councils in the Swindon area to spread the message further. Finally, by working with the local schools, colleges and councils the team are proving that GWR are truly part of the local community, utilising local talent to be part of the GWR future, making history together.

The whole programme is about supporting our apprentices and local colleagues to deliver an excellent customer experience for our customers. The team also operate an on call process for the apprentices 24/7. The team are trained in all areas of safeguarding and provide this additional pastoral service to all apprentices which truly is dedicated to safety. The Operations scheme is one of the best schemes in the country for young people and was the first to accept under 18's as part of the programme. The constant evaluation ensure the schemes maintain the highest of standards. The schemes deliver 8 mainstream qualifications for the apprentices and are the only team to operate not only a time with your mentor session each period, but additional periodical interactions with the Apprentices and Mentors ensuring they are constantly monitored in personal performance terms.

“The engineering program delivers all the key skills needed to become part of the depot team. Along with worldwide recognised qualifications it gives us the skills in team working and I have made great friends along the way. I have been lucky to have been part of the exchange program with Amey Rail, which was great,” Jack Cole, Engineering Apprentice

“Thank you once again for inviting us to be part of a really special celebration event today. Once again your young people have come on leaps and bounds, and chatting to them today I could feel the confidence and enthusiasm radiating off them....even if the words "Duke of Edinburgh's Award" made a look of terror cross a few of their faces! Joking aside, they all told me it had been a tough but ultimately rewarding experience. I think I've said this before, but the care and thought that goes into your apprenticeship programme shines out every time I visit - I think it's a real gold standard example of running the DofE alongside more formal or technical training. Thank you for being friends and advocates of our charity. We love working with you.”

Alex Alex Hay - Senior Partnerships Manager, The Duke of Edinburgh's Award“